Petr Yan Sheds Light on DQ Loss; Aljamain Sterling Asks For Henry Cejudo Next

Aljamain Sterling flatlined by Petr Yan after an illegal knee

At UFC 259, Petr Yan (15-2) lost his UFC bantamweight title in the worst possible way. No, he did not get knocked out or submitted by Aljamain Sterling. Instead, he became the first UFC champion to lose a belt via disqualification.

During the post-fight interview, Yan described the moment leading up to the illegal knee in the fourth round. He confessed he was more focused on the hand position and not the knees.

“You saw everything,” Yan said (via translator). “I don’t even know what to say. Before the fight, the referee was paying a lot of attention [to] the hand position, [whether] the fighter was grounded or not. I was just too focused on his hands and [forgot] about his legs. I didn’t mean to do any illegal shot.”

When the incident happened, the commentary team pointed out the confusing instructions from Yan’s corner. Daniel Cormier, who was commentating along with Joe Rogan and Jon Anik, claimed that Yan’s team gave him the green light to “hit” Sterling.

How did Cormier know what Yan’s corner said in Russian? Well, Cormier’s best friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov, was cageside. Nurmagomedov translated the interaction for “DC.”

Petr Yan Gets Conflicting Instructions From His Corner

After the fight, ESPN released Yan’s corner footage, which showed one of his teammates celebrating the illegal strike, whereas the other seemed upset.

Petr Yan’s corner yells confusing instructions at UFC 259

“To be honest, I didn’t really understand what they were telling me,” Yan said. “I was just focused on the hand and focused on throwing the knee when he [would] be up.”

Yan revealed he did not realize what happened after the knee. He thought Aljamain was not downed. Regardless, he believes the ending warrants an immediate rematch, as it’s “not prestigious” to win a title via DQ.

“It sucks, you know? I think [he], as a fighter, don’t wanna accept the belt this way. And if he’s gonna be healthy, I hope we gonna have a rematch soon.”

Petr Yan throws an illegal knee at Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259
Petr Yan throws an illegal knee at Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259

Dana White’s comments during his post-fight interview suggested that an immediate rematch is possible. White stated that Aljamain was cleared from the hospital and did not suffer from any severe damage.

Darren Till, Henry Cejudo, and T.J. Dillashaw blast Aljamain Sterling

Fighters like Henry Cejudo, T.J. Dillashaw, Darren Till, and others felt Sterling was acting the entire time. But why?

Sterling was behind on the judges’ scorecards, as Yan had completely taken over after the second round and was dominating his opponent in every aspect, including the grappling exchanges. Sterling would have most likely lost the fight via decision if he had to make it through five rounds.

The 31-year-old also raised some eyebrows when he did his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan and tweeted about the fight immediately after the bout.

Darren Till nominates Aljamain Sterling for an Oscar
Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw calls Aljamain Sterling “Fake Master”
Henry Cejudo also nominates Sterling for an Oscar

It may be noted that Cejudo issued an apology to Aljamain in a different tweet.

What did you think of the knee? Was Aljamain faking the severity of the strike? Let us know in the comments section.

Yan Explains Why He Raised His Hand; Goes Back and Forth with Sterling

Aljamain Sterling put an incredible pace on Yan in the first round. Some critics and even the commentators claimed Yan froze under the pressure. However, Yan revealed that his strategy was to tire out Sterling in the initial rounds.

“It was my plan to just make him work in the first couple rounds, make him waste the energy, and then after that bring the best.”

As far as the rules are concerned, Yan stated he and his team were aware of them, and the foul was not intentional. When a journalist asked why he raised his hand following the DQ loss, Yan said he was expecting a No Contest.

“At least I was expecting the fight to be a no contest at the moment.”

Aljamain Sterling upset following DQ win over Petr Yan at UFC 259
Aljamain Sterling upset following DQ win over Petr Yan at UFC 259

Yan issued an apology to Sterling on Twitter but seemingly mocked him on Instagram. Since then, both fighters have been going back and forth. The Russian even accused Sterling, who called out Henry Cejudo, of ducking the rematch.

Cejudo, a former UFC bantamweight champion who vacated the belt, has responded to Aljamain’s call-out and asked the latter to show him the money.

Professional Boxing and MMA writer at The Combat Magazine.